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Student-designed Mann Library landscape chosen for sustainability test

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) has selected the Mann Library entrance landscape, which was designed by students, as one of the first landscapes to participate in an international pilot project program to test the nation's first rating system for green landscape design, construction and maintenance.

SITES -- a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Botanic Garden -- selected Mann Library for its extensive environmentally friendly elements.

"The site's sustainability features include the use of pest-resistant and noninvasive plants adapted to the site conditions, soil remediation to enhance soil productivity and incorporating spaces for people to gather and enjoy the site, among others," said Nina Bassuk, professor of horticulture.

The Mann Library site will join more than 150 other projects from 34 states as well as from Canada, Iceland and Spain as part of the program to evaluate the new SITES rating system for sustainable landscapes that might clean water, reduce pollution and restore habitats, while providing significant economic and social benefits to landowners and municipalities.

The Mann Library entrance was designed by the students this year in Horticulture/Landscape Architecture 4910-4920, Creating the Urban Eden, a yearlong class co-taught by Bassuk and Peter J. Trowbridge, professor of landscape architecture, that culminates in the construction of a new landscape on the Cornell campus every year.

The chosen projects will test SITES' point system for achieving different levels of sustainability on a 250-point scale and specific performance benchmarks. SITES will use the feedback to develop a final rating system and reference guide by early 2013. The U.S. Green Building Council, a stakeholder in SITES, anticipates incorporating the guidelines and performance benchmarks into future iterations of its LEED Green Building Rating System.

Other chosen sites include the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture, a New Orleans' project to absorb storm water on the streets of the Lower Ninth Ward flooded during Hurricane Katrina, academic and corporate campuses, public parks with hundreds of acres, transportation corridors and private residences.

Media Contact

John Carberry